Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (2024)

by Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan 路 Last modified: 17 Comments

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Cooking time: 16 minutes mins

Make your own comfort food with this breaded tenderloin sandwich. A classic from Iowa and Indiana made with a flattened pork filet coated with breadcrumb crust and pan-fried.

Made with pork tenderloin for more flavor and tender results without going through mechanical tenderization鈥攅asier and tastier for the home cook.

Pork tenderloin
Oil鈥corn or canola
Bread crumbs鈥or crushed saltine crackers crumbs
Eggs and milk
Pantry ingredients鈥all-purpose flour, salt, black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder
Serving鈥hamburger bun, mayonnaise, mustard, pickles slices, red onion, tomatoes, lettuce, and many other things.

Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (1)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
  • 馃悥Ingredients
  • 馃懆鈥嶐煃矵ow to make breaded tenderloin sandwiches
  • How to serve pork tenderloin sandwiches
  • 鈾笍Stovetop frying tips
  • How to store and reheat
  • 鉂揊AQs
  • About Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches
  • Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
  • 馃摉 Recipe
  • Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (2)

Featured Comment by Will from Waterloo:
"Best meat sandwich in the world. Great recipe, great tips. A ten for sure.."

The pork tenderloin sandwich is made with a breaded and fried pork cutlet similar to the Wiener Schnitzel. Oddly enough, it is generally made with mechanically tenderized pork loin, not pork tenderloin.

Try some other comfort foods. Start with a much healthier version of this recipe: Oven Fried Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches. Or move on to other comfort foods: Oven Fried Chicken with Gravy, 30-Minute Chicken Fried Steak with Gravy, Fried Pork Chops with Gravy, or a Juicy Lucy Burger.

馃懆鈥嶐煃矵ow to make breaded tenderloin sandwiches

  1. Trim a pork tenderloin and cut it into quarters. Butterfly those sections and flatten them to 录 inch with a meat mallet or heavy pan.
  2. Set up two shallow pans, first with milk and egg and second with flour, bread crumbs, and seasoning.
  3. Dry the tenderloin filets with paper towels. Dip in the first pan, shake off excess, dip in the second pan, and shank off excess. Set on a flat surface while oil gets to temperature.
  4. Heat 录 inch of oil in a large pan over medium heat to 350掳to 375掳.
  5. Fry the breaded pork tenderloin until golden brown and keep warm on a baking tray in a 200掳 preheated oven while frying more batches of tenderloins.
  6. Serve hot on a bun with toppings.

This is a summary of the steps and ingredients. See the recipe card or the step-by-step photo instructions below for complete instructions.

How to serve pork tenderloin sandwiches

First, a note about flavor鈥攖hese sandwiches are a bit bland, so spice it up if you want. Something like cumin mayo would be a great topping.

Serve on a bun with a side of some type of potatoes, like French fries, scalloped potatoes, or roasted baby potatoes. Add a hot vegetable like corn on the cob, green beans, or baked beans.

鈾笍Stovetop frying tips

This is a stovetop frying recipe, so shallowly frying using oil in a frying pan. You can use a countertop deep-fryer if you have one.

  • Start with a large frying pan鈥擨 use a 12-inch cast-iron pan. Other pans may be used, but heavy pans will hold their heat better.
  • The oil should be a neutral oil, like corn or canola.
  • The oil temperature must be monitored and kept between 350 and 375. Start at the high end of the range since the temperature will drop when the tenderloins are added. Turn up the heat when adding the tenderloin.
  • If the oil gets colder than 325掳, the coating will absorb more oil. But too hot oil will burn. I recommend 350掳 to 375掳 as your goal, but 325掳 to 375掳 is OK.

How to store and reheat

Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 3 days or frozen for 3 months.

To reheat, use the oven at 400掳 for about 10-15 minutes. Or in an air fryer.

鉂揊AQs

Getting the coating to stick better:

-Start with very dry meat. Dry with a paper towel before starting to coat.
-Use egg as the wash.
-Let the coating sit for 5 minutes before cooking.
-Don't play with your food. Wait for the edge color to change before flipping.
-When you do a flip, use a fork. Try only to flip it once.

Can breaded pork tenderloin filets be baked?

Yes, see my Oven Fried Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches.

About Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches

For you non-Iowans, this is a small-town classic. Many small towns in Iowa, Indiana, and other states have restaurants that will claim to have the best, most award-winning, or the biggest tenderloin sandwich.

You don't need to say pork; it is understood as "a tenderloin sandwich." The pork producers have a yearly contest to pick the best restaurant version. There are websites dedicated to this much-celebrated delicacy.

The Des Moines Register has a yearly roundup of the best tenderloin sandwiches in the state. It is a much-coveted award that will be talked about for decades. It has been, it is, and always will be a much-loved Iowa tradition.

I hear Indiana has the same passionate love for the tenderloin sandwich, which is embedded in their Hooser's hearts. In the interest of Midwest comradeship, they may use my recipe.

Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (3)

鈫慗ump to Table of Contents

This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.

101's Best Recipes, Comfort Food Recipes, Pork Recipes, Pork Tenderloin Recipes

Have you tried this recipe, or have a question? Join the community discussion in the comments.

Step-by-Step Photo Instructions

Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (4)

Be sure you have pork tenderloin and not pork loin.

Trim pork tenderloin of any fat and silverskin. Cut into four equal-sized pieces of about equal weight. Next, "butterfly" the pieces. Do this by cutting 戮 of the way through and folding it back to double the size.

Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (6)

Cover each piece individually with plastic wrap or put it in a ziplock bag and pound it to 录 inch thick.

Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (7)

Set up two pans. In the first, combine 1 egg and 陆 cup milk鈥攚hip well. In the second pan, 1 cup of AP flour, 陆 cup of bread crumbs, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 陆 teaspoon each of pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.

Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (8)

Dry the meat with paper towels and coat the meat with egg wash. Shake to remove excess. Coat well in the flour mixture and shake off excess. Let them rest for about 5 minutes on a flat surface before cooking.

Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (9)

Heat 录 inch of oil in a large pan over medium heat to 350掳to 375掳. A heavy pan will hold the heat better. You need to check the temperature frequently, and a good instant-read thermometer is great here. Preheat the oven and a tray to 200掳 to keep batches warm while you do additional pieces.

Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (10)

Place breaded pork tenderloin into the hot oil, but do not "crowd the pan." Fry for 3-4 minutes per side. About a minute into each side, shake the pan a little to move the meat a little, keeping it from sticking and helping it be crispy. The edge of the breading starts to brown is the meat is saying, "Turn me now."

Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (11)

Cook until golden brown and internal temp of 145 plus. You will need to adjust the burner heat to keep the oil in the 350 to 375 range. You will not be able to keep it perfect, but be aware you need to turn up the heat. Between batches, you should turn the heat down to keep it from overheating.

Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (12)

Transfer the completed tenderloin to the heated oven and pan to keep them warm for serving. Continue to cook your batches of tenderloins.

Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (13)

Serve on a bun with mayo, a pickle, and other toppings of your choice.

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馃摉 Recipe

Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (14)

Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

From Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan

Make your own comfort food with this breaded tenderloin sandwich. A classic from Iowa and Indiana made with a flattened pork filet coated with breadcrumb crust and pan-fried.

4.47 from 71 votes

Prep Time: 10 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 16 minutes minutes

Total Time: 26 minutes minutes

Servings #/Adjust if desired 4 servings

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Ingredients

US Customary - Convert to Metric

  • 1 pork tenderloin - trimmed
  • cup oil - corn or canola
  • 1 egg
  • cup milk
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • cup bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon pepper
  • teaspoon onion powder
  • teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Trim pork tenderloin of any fat and silverskin. Cut into four equal size pieces of about equal weight. Next, "butterfly" the pieces. Do this by cutting 戮 of the way through and folding it back to double the size.

    Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (15)

  2. Cover each piece individually with plastic wrap or put it in a ziplock bag and pound it to 录 inch thick.

    Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (16)

  3. Set up two pans. In the first, combine 1 egg and 陆 cup milk鈥攚hip well. In the second pan, 1 cup of AP flour, 陆 cup of bread crumbs, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 陆 teaspoon each of pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.

    Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (17)

  4. Dry the meat with paper towels and coat the meat with egg wash. Shake to remove excess. Coat well in the flour mixture and shake off excess. Let them rest for about 5 minutes on a flat surface before cooking.

    Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (18)

  5. Heat 录 inch of oil in a large pan over medium heat to 350掳to 375掳. A heavy pan will hold the heat better. You need to check the temperature frequently, and a good instant-read thermometer is great here. Preheat the oven and a tray to 200掳 to keep batches warm while you do additional pieces.

    Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (19)

  6. Place breaded pork tenderloin into the hot oil but do not "crowd the pan." Fry for 3-4 minutes per side. About a minute into each side, shake the pan a little to move the meat a little, keeping it from sticking and helping it be crispy. The edge of the breading starts to brown is the meat is saying, "turn me now.

    Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (20)

  7. Cook until golden brown and internal temp of 145掳 plus. You will need to adjust the burner heat to keep the oil in the 350掳 to 375掳 range. You will not be able to keep it perfect, but be aware you need to turn up the heat. Between batches, you should turn the heat down to keep it from overheating.

    Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (21)

  8. Transfer the completed tenderloin to the heated oven and pan to keep them warm for serving. Continue to cook your batches of tenderloins.

    Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (22)

  9. Serve on a bun with mayo, a pickle, and other toppings of your choice.

    Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (23)

Do you have a question?Leave a comment to ask or check the recipe post above for most common questions and variations.

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Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (24)

Recipe Notes

Pro Tips:

  1. This recipe will work with tenderized pork loin.
  2. Use the coating you want. Vary the spices and components
  3. The temperature of your oil is very important. I suggest corn or canola oil.
  4. To help the coating stick better:
    -Start with very dry meat. Dry with a paper towel before starting to coat.
    -Use egg as the wash.
    -Let the coating sit for 5 minutes before cooking.
    -Don't play with your food. Wait for the edge color to change before flipping.
    -When you do a flip, use a fork and stick it on the edge. Try only to flip once.
  5. Good refrigerated after cooking for 2-3 days or frozen for about 3 months. Reheat after thawing in a 400 oven for 10-15 minutes.

To adjust the recipe size:

You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.

Nutrition Estimate

Calories : 540 kcal (27%)Carbohydrates : 36 g (12%)Protein : 44 g (88%)Fat : 23 g (35%)Saturated Fat : 5 g (25%)Polyunsaturated Fat : 3 gMonounsaturated Fat : 14 gCholesterol : 164 mg (55%)Sodium : 736 mg (31%)Potassium : 748 mg (21%)Fiber : 2 g (8%)Sugar : 3 g (3%)Vitamin A : 150 IU (3%)Vitamin C : 2.5 mg (3%)Calcium : 90 mg (9%)Iron : 4.3 mg (24%)

Serving size is my estimate of a normal size unless stated otherwise. The number of servings per recipe is stated above. This is home cooking, and there are many variables. All nutritional information are estimates and may vary from your actual results. To taste ingredients such as salt will be my estimate of the average used.

Course : Main Course

Cuisine : American

漏 101 Cooking for Two, LLC. All content and photographs are copyright protected by us or our vendors. While we appreciate your sharing our recipes, please realize copying, pasting, or duplicating full recipes to any social media, website, or electronic/printed media is strictly prohibited and a violation of our copyrights.

Originally published August 9, 2012. Updated with greatly expanded options and explanations. Photos have been refreshed, and a few from other cookings have been added to help explain鈥攆inally, a table of contents and a puppy picture.

Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (25)

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  1. Chuck

    Years ago in Knoxville IOWA @ Kone Corner they made a giant tenderloin sandwich the size of a dinner plate. It was fantastic. Does anyone know how this was done?
    Thanks.

    Reply

  2. Ruth

    Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (26)
    How much does the pork tenderloin weigh that you call for in this recipe? Seems like I have a lot of flour mix left over. The loins are very good, better than a restaurant as my husband puts it.

    Reply

    • Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan

      Hi Ruth,
      Welcome to the blog.
      The Tenderloins are about 1 1/2 lb. usually. You are right, you can decrease the coating volume but I always have problems with breeding when I'm skimpy. So I always have a bit too much.

      I need to rewrite this recipe a bit. Most people are using the oven fried version at https://www.101cookingfortwo.com/oven-fried-pork-tenderloin-sandwiches/ which is less of a mess.

      Thanks for the note and rating.

      Dan

  3. David Fatka

    Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (27)
    Can you use Canola oil to deep fry in?

    Reply

    • Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan

      Hi David,
      Welcome to the blog.
      Yep, any vegetable oil in fine. I usually use corn or canola oil or mixture. Anymore though I usually do my oven version which is easier with less mess. https://www.101cookingfortwo.com/oven-fried-pork-tenderloin-sandwiches/
      Thanks for the note and rating.
      Dan

  4. Will from Waterloo

    Best meat sandwich in the world. Great recipe, great tips. A ten for sure.

    Reply

    • Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan

      Hi Will,
      Welcome to the blog and sorry for the delayed response.
      Glad you enjoyed the recipe. This and my oven version seem better to me than what I have had in Iowa in recent years. Too many restaurants are using premade.
      Thanks for the note.
      Dan

  5. Alice Cato

    If someone knows Millies recipe would you post it to my Email Thank you

    Reply

    • Sherrie

      I鈥檇 like that recipe as well. It was the top of the line tenderloin sandwich.

  6. Frank Schroedl

    Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (28)
    The recipe is good
    Try making pork cutlet the easy way

    Pork loin is best, but you can use trimmed, boned pork chops or steaks.
    1. Trim and bone chops or steaks
    2. Pound them out with a tenderizing hammer ( Both sides )
    3. Dip in egg and milk mixture
    4. Press your pork into crushed cracker crumbs (Premium) Don't use cheap salteans
    5. Pan fry in corn oil until golden brown
    Enjoy!
    It's rare there are any leftovers

    Reply

    • Lyle Mains

      Frank, try soaking or marinating the loin overnight, after pounding out to desired thickness in buttermilk. Dredge in milk/egg, flour, then dredge again, and coat with panko bread crumbs. Fry 3 minutes on a side, in 350 degree peanut oil!

    • CAROL

      Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (29)
      Frank, I grew up in Iowa and your recipe which is the one I still use, (I'm now 72) has always been the one we use. Saltines for sure.

  7. Nancy Brousseau

    Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (30)
    I grew up eating these in Iowa. Always made with coating of eggwash and crushed cornflakes. Am going to make them for my grandkids. Had forgotten how good they were.

    Reply

    • DrDan

      Thanks for the note and rating. I really like this but due to the fat I have moved on to the oven baked ones at https://www.101cookingfortwo.com/oven-fried-pork-tenderloin-sandwiches/ and I now like them better. Overall easier.

      Dan

  8. Dr Dan

    I just had to put this in the top 10...

    Reply

  9. Kingdango

    Yum, sharing this with Jenni...

    Reply

  10. Chris

    I've seen that state specialty on some of the food travelogues on TV but haven't tried making myself. Yours looks so nicely cooked and I bet it was tender.

    Reply

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